To determine if a nationwide implementation of robotic minimally invasive surgery (MIS) influenced the risk of severe complications and survival among women with early-stage endometrial cancer, a group of researchers from the University of Southern Denmark studied the Danish Gynecological Cancer Database, a nationwide, mandatory prospective registration of new cases of women with endometrial cancer who received their surgical treatment in a public hospital.1 Siv Joergensen, MD, reported results at the 47th AAGL Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecology annual meeting on November 13, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The transition to robotic MIS was undertaken in Denmark from 2008 to 2013, with the centralization of endometrial cancer treatment in 2012. Over the span of 10 years, the surgical approach to treatment changed from 97% open access surgery to 95% MIS.
For the prospective cohort study, more than 7,000 women with endometrial cancer who received a hysterectomy from January 2005 to June 2015 were grouped by those receiving surgical care before (group 1) and after (group 2) robotic MIS implementation in Denmark. A total of 5,654 women with FIGO Stage I–II endometrial cancer were included in the final study.
Severe complications were 7.3% in group 1 and 6.2% in group 2 (odds ratio, 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10–1.73). Five-year survival rates were significantly lower before robotic MIS was implemented (hazard ratio, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.05–1.41), and no difference was found between laparoscopic and robotic MIS.
The authors concluded that nationwide implementation of robotic MIS enabled a shift toward all types of MIS (with a 73% reduction in hysterectomies performed by laparotomy) and translated into reduced risk of severe complications and increased survival.
How do these results compare with those in the United States?
According to Erica Dun, MD, MPH, who provided commentary for Dr. Joergensen’s study, the United States adopted robotic MIS in the early 2000s. Around 2008, 14% of hysterectomies performed for early-stage endometrial cancer were done through a MIS approach.2 In 2014, after a study in which Walker and colleagues found that laparoscopy was safe and feasible compared with laparotomy,3 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, jointly with the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, stated that “MIS should be embraced as the standard surgical approach for comprehensive surgical staging in women with endometrial cancer.”4
Dr. Dun pointed out that Casarin and colleagues found in 2018 that 71.4% of surgeries performed in the United States for endometrial cancer were performed through MIS.5 That number rose to 86.5% MIS (72.5% robot-assisted) for centers of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.6
Dr. Dun concluded that nationwide implementation of robotic MIS is feasible for gynecologic oncologists, and it is beneficial for patients.